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is water where some sort of acid
An acid is a substance which reacts with a base. Commonly, acids can be identified as tasting sour, reacting with metals such as calcium, and bases like sodium carbonate. Aqueous acids have a pH of less than 7, where an acid of lower pH is typically stronger, and turn blue litmus paper red...
is added—often lemon
The lemon is both a small evergreen tree native to Asia, and the tree's ellipsoidal yellow fruit. The fruit is used for culinary and non-culinary purposes throughout the world – primarily for its juice, though the pulp and rind are also used, mainly in cooking and baking...
Lime is a term referring to a number of different citrus fruits, both species and hybrids, which are typically round, green to yellow in color, 3–6 cm in diameter, and containing sour and acidic pulp. Limes are a good source of vitamin C. Limes are often used to accent the flavors of foods and...
juice, or vinegar
Vinegar is a liquid substance consisting mainly of acetic acid and water, the acetic acid being produced through the fermentation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria. Commercial vinegar is produced either by fast or slow fermentation processes. Slow methods generally are used with traditional...
—to prevent cut or skinned fruits or vegetables from browning so as to maintain their appearance. Some vegetables and fruits which are often placed in acidulated water are: apples, avocados, celeriac
Celeriac is also known as celery root, turnip-rooted celery or knob celery. It is a kind of celery, grown as a root vegetable primarily for its large and bulbous hypocotyl rather than for its stem and leaves. The swollen hypocotyl is typically used when it is about 10–12 cm in...
, potatoes and pears. When the fruit or vegetable is removed from the mixture, it will usually resist browning for at least an hour or two, even though it is being exposed to oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...
An added benefit of placing items in acidulated water is that the food item acquires a taste of the acid used, which can be very pleasant on the palate. Items that are going to be cooked are usually not acidulated, as there is no need for them to maintain their original color.
Acidulated water, most often made with the use of vinegar, can be used on an aged, hanging beef carcass (butchered) to help clean it. The hanging primals / sub-primals can be wiped down with a cloth that has been submerged in the acidulated solution to help remove the "slick" surface that can build up during the aging process.